07/12/2010, 00.00
ASIA – SOUTH AFRICA
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World Cup 2010: Asia celebrates the ‘Red Fury’

The continent’s main newspapers give wide coverage to Spain’s one nil victory over the Netherlands. “Unprecedented celebrations” are recorded in Saudi Arabia, but Saudi paper criticises referees who could use 21st century technology. From Bangalore, fan criticises the Times of India for being too favourable to the Netherlands.
Rome (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Asian newspapers are celebrating Spain’s first World Cup victory, a day after it beat the Netherlands in South Africa 2010. From Manila to Beijing, Bangkok to Yangon, and Lahore to Seoul, Asian media have given a large coverage to the success of the Spanish team.

In Saudi Arabia, Arab News reported “unprecedented celebrations” for the triumph of ‘La Furia Roja’ (the Red Fury), as the Spanish football team is also known. The Saudi paper did not however refrain from criticising the referees, whose errors marred the entire tournament.

Spain won its first title by beating the Netherlands one nil, in an all-European final. Germany won the consolation prize, beating Uruguay 3-2.

The Spanish victory came in the second extra time, just four minutes before the penalty shootout.

Barcelona’s midfielder Andrés Iniesta scored after he was set up by fellow teammate Francesc Fabregas who had just come in as a replacement.  The Dutch complained bitterly when the Spaniard scored, saying the referee had failed to give them an obvious corner kick in the previous action.

The 2010 World Cup in South Africa has had its lot of referee errors. In an editorial, Arab News criticised the sport’s governing body, the Federation Internationale de Football Association, or FIFA, for the situation. It asked whether it will embrace the advantages of 21st technology in deciding disagreements.

“One hopes,” it writes, “that by the time the next World Cup is held in Brazil in 2014, technology will be relied upon much more to help make refereeing decisions that are fairer and much more accurate than they have been so far.”

Across Saudi Arabia, both locals and immigrants from Egypt, Pakistan and India cheered Spain’s victory. In Khobar, a city in the Eastern Province, crowds of fans watched the match in shopping centres (pictured).

Arab News reported that in one location, “when Spain's Andrés Iniesta scored in the final moments, the decibel levels in the hypermarket went through the roof.”

Football (soccer) is a popular sport in the Saudi kingdom and the Spanish team succeeded in gaining fans’ sympathy. In Jeddah, a Pakistani said that “It was an excellent match” and that “Our prayers have been answered."

Dissident Burmese newspaper The Irrawaddy stressed the importance of Spain’s victory, its first in history, which brings fresh air into the game. “Other nations” like “the United States, Ghana, Portugal and others can take heart and dream that their day might come, too.”

A reader of the Times of India complained instead about the newspaper’s tilt towards the Netherlands.

“I saw the game myself and was clearly impressed with Spain. Dutch played football? Sorry, I thought they were playing a wrestling match. One of the worst teams in the history of football,” wrote Abhishek from Bangalore.

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